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Samsung's new watches get a little smarter

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Samsung's new watches get a little smarter

Samsung unveiled two new computerized wristwatches on Sunday that include health sensors and related fitness features. Samsung's first Galaxy Gear smartwatch came out last fall amid much fanfare, but it landed with a thud in the marketplace. Samsung and its smartwatch rivals had failed to persuade many consumers that they need to be able to constantly check email and texts from their wrists. Wearable devices that succeeded tended to be fitness products. So, the new Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo will have a heart rate sensor, a pedometer and various tools to measure exercise, sleep and stress levels. The low-resolution, 2-megapixel camera on the Gear 2 is being moved to the main body; it was on the strap on the original Gear. The Gear 2 Neo has no camera and is slightly larger, but lighter. Samsung didn't announce prices for the new watches, but said they would be available in April. The original cost $300.

Skin problems lead to recall of Fitbit Force

Fitbit is voluntarily recalling the Force, a wristband fitness tracker that won rave reviews — until users began complaining about skin irritation, rashes and, in some cases, burns. James Park, Fitbit's CEO and co-founder, released a statement explaining the recall. It said in part: "While only 1.7 percent of Force users have reported any type of skin irritation, we care about every one of our customers … We have stopped selling Force and have decided to conduct a voluntary recall. We are offering a refund directly to consumers for full retail price." Park said the company is working on a next-generation tracker and will announce news about it soon. It is still unclear what is causing the Force skin problems.

Windows 8 to get a touch-up

Microsoft will update its Windows system this spring to address some of the gripes people have had when they use devices without touch capabilities. Windows 8 and last fall's 8.1 update were designed for a touch environment. But some of the gesture commands don't translate well when using traditional mouse and keyboard controls. Among other things, Microsoft will add search, power and settings buttons to the Start page, so that users don't have to figure out how to pull those functions like a sock drawer from the right. There also will be easier, touch-free ways to close apps. Microsoft also announced Sunday that it is updating its Windows Phone system this spring to work better in corporate environments. — tbt* news services

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